I love General Conference weekend, and I always look forward to listen to our wonderful and amazing church leaders. Every time I hear something I need to hear, and I am just grateful that Heavenly Father gave us those amazing men and women who lead us (in His name) through this life. I know with all my heart that I can trust them and that they will never lead us astray. Heavenly Father promised us that.
Now on Saturday, during the sustaining votes, (for the first time I can remember) we witnessed a few people dissenting votes and not sustaining our beloved prophet and apostles. I didn’t even notice it during conference and was just confused when I heard President Uchtdorf say: “The votes have been noted”, and he repeated that a few times. When I found out later why that happened, I was shocked, saddened and couldn’t believe it at first. (I actually thought that was a late April Fool’s prank.) It was real though and I so I read a lot of articles, comments and posts during the last few days. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it because nothing is so clear to me than the knowledge that I can trust our leaders 100%. That is a testimony I do have, and I have no problem declaring:
It just makes me sad because it is clear that those people are on the wrong path and probably on the path to apostasy. Why do I say that? Well first of all when a person or group runs to the media first and declares what they are about to do or what they are doing, to cast a bad light on the church, or to simple get backup for their wrong ways, that is a red flag to me. I have said so many times that there is nothing wrong with having questions and doubts. It is one thing to quietly question church doctrine and going to the Lord in prayer to get some answers, but it is a different approach when we openly go against the prophet and our apostles who are led and guided by Heavenly Father himself. He chose those wonderful men for a reason and as President Woodruff said before, will not let these special men lead us astray.
I was part of several conversations and it is clear to me that people who so openly go against church leaders, have more issues than just doubting the doctrine. I have been a member of this church my whole life and those who doubt, either try everything in their power to resolve the doubts (prayer, scripture reading, speaking to other members and local leaders) or they just leave. If you try to force your own views, opinions and thoughts on others in such a way by influencing others, by bringing the media in this and causing trouble simply because what your local church leaders are saying to you isn’t to your satisfaction and you want the General Authorities to give you attention, you are on your way to apostasy.
I wish people would just be willing to listen to these amazing men and women we call our General Authorities. They are truly led by God and if you have an open heart and listen with the intent to really hear, you can feel that too.
Today my husband and I spoke about these things and how Satan will always try to influence us and how he is successful when we let our own pride, or the world, talk us into doing things against the Lord’s will. In one of the conversations I had yesterday (with people on Facebook) I pointed out that a testimony doesn’t just happen, but requires work every single day. It is something we have to nourish. As I said, quietly trying to search for answers and getting doubts resolved is by honest, heartfelt prayer and by using the tools Heavenly Father has given us, not by trying to make a scene at a spiritual meeting and trying to cause the church harm, by claiming that the church is intolerant and that we are just sheep blindly following our leaders. This is the Lord’s church and no complaining about how things are done will change how He runs His church. President Monson and all the apostles and other leaders, are being led by God himself, they don’t make the commandments, laws and rules. Nobody in this church is ever forced to do anything. We have the right to choose to dissent, or not participate in things, or not belief, but that doesn’t change the fact that Heavenly Father wants us to obey and listen to Him. He wants us to return to him. He will never force us, but to return means we have to follow certain rules. We have the right to choose, but we are not free to choose the consequences of our choice.
My husband mentioned the story of Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah and how they were apostate and went against the church and their local leaders. That made me realize that happenings, like the dissenting votes, is nothing new. Everything will repeat itself because we have our free agency and because Satan will do what it takes to influence us and make us miserable. He will gladly take over the hearts of us members because he knows he will have more success if he reaches us from the inside because that will confuse those more who already struggle with their testimonies.
One thing is clear to me though: If we want to stay active, if we want to make sure that no wolf’s in sheep clothing will get to us, we need to continue to strengthen our testimonies and we need to be obedient to the commandments of the Lord and that includes listening to His prophet and apostles. It is not easy to stay on the straight and narrow path, but it is possible as long as we do our part and trust the Lord that He will lead and guide us. I hope that those who are becoming apostate or are already on the wrong path, will find their way again and will listen to the still small voice. Nothing is impossible because just like Alma the younger was able to turn his life around, anyone can do that, but only if we are willing to listen to Him and those He sends to us as a warning.
I know that this is the church of Heavenly Father and that He is in charge. Nothing will change unless He himself wants it to change. We can be unhappy with doctrine and the way the church is run, we can throw tantrums and be offended about it, but He knows His plan and the work will go forward. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and that He is there for us no matter what. He will give us the answers we are looking for, but we have to do it the right way. Attacking his leaders in one way or another or refusing to sustain them is not going to get us anywhere. He called them and they do His work!
P.S.: Sustaining and voting are two different things though. This church is not a democracy and when we cannot sustain a called leader, we need to have some serious knowledge about that person and what he/ she is doing wrong, serious enough that they can’t do the calling. Dislike isn’t enough. Elder Russell M. Nelson explained sustaining and voting very well:
“When we sustain prophets and other leaders, we invoke the law of common consent, for the Lord said, ‘It shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.’
This gives us, as members of the Lord’s Church, confidence and faith as we strive to keep the scriptural injunction to heed the Lord’s voice as it comes through the voice of His servants the prophets. All leaders in the Lord’s Church are called by proper authority. No prophet or any other leader in this Church, for that matter, has ever called himself or herself. No prophet has ever been elected. The Lord made that clear when He said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you.” You and I do not “vote” on Church leaders at any level. We do, though, have the privilege of sustaining them.”